The West

A model showcases designs on the runway at the Romance Was Born show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Sydney. Picture: Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images

The level of detail and flights of imaginative fancy that go into a Romance Was Born show almost beggars belief.

You come away with your jaw slightly agape, wondering how the design duo of Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett dream up such crazy, magical stuff.


After a day of pleasant but not earth-shattering shows, finishing off with a Romance Was Born parade is like having an electrical jolt to the system, a metaphorical shot in the arm.

You suddenly realise the possibilities, the fantasy worlds that fashion can open up.

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Let's get this straight: there is probably not a lot in this latest collection that I would personally wear. It's much too fanciful for my own comparatively minimal style. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the work that has gone into these outfits, which are by turns whimsical, psychedelic, and just plain nutty - but nutty in a beautiful way.

It's never an easy task to pinpoint just one reference in a Romance show. There are so many, but this doesn't mean the designers are derivative. On the contrary - they fuse all their various inspirations into an impressively original whole.

Last night I detected a bit of Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie (the face glitter, the sparkles on jumpsuits); some late 1960s psychedelia, with digital prints that reminded me of the great late 1960s illustrator Peter Max or the animated film of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine; Japanese manga comics and Harajuku girls; mod dollybirds; Strawberry Shortcake; intergalactic aliens.

If that sounds like a weird and wonderful mix, well - it was.

The models sported a variety of sorbet-coloured bobbed and bowl-cut wigs, giant fake eyelashes that harked back to the days of Twiggy and Peggy Moffitt, stuck-on pouty lips and headpieces that were a cross between alien antennae and a cheerleader's pom-pom. It was all delightfully, outrageously kooky.

So often when you go to a fashion show you make the following sort of mental notes: "What are they thinking? I wouldn't wear that!" And you can't quite follow the designer's train of thought. With Romance Was Born, you just have to give yourself over to the fantasy. Because whether you're personally capable of pulling off a Romance piece or not - multicoloured ruffles, feathered pants, psychedelic capes, babydoll dresses and all - it's difficult not to feel enormous admiration for what this uniquely creative duo do.

The West Australian

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